The Norman Transcript

Local Business

February 6, 2010

Be your own James Bond

No parent really wants to spy on their children. We simply wish that they would be up front with us, tell us what's going on in their lives, and allow us to help them. However, sometimes that is not the case, and we must use other means to keep up with what our kids are really doing.

The Internet makes it very easy to live a double life. In "real" life, when a boy visits your house to take your teenage daughter out on a date, you get the opportunity to look him over, and decide if you like what you see. But, what if your daughter goes out on Internet dates? Unknown to you, she and her online "boyfriend" may be exchanging intimate e-mails, instant messages, photos and videos, when all the while you think that the glow of the computer screen on her face means that she's doing her homework. I personally know of one teenage girl who had a secret teenage Internet boyfriend, and was all set to run away to Colorado to pay him a visit, when somehow her plans were exposed. Some investigation revealed that Mr. Dreamboat was actually about 45 years old.

So, the situation arises that you need to know more about your children's online activities. Employers have the same needs in tracking the online activities of their employees. You can hire someone to do it for you, or you can take the do-it-yourself approach. Either way, just like in a high-tech spy thriller, some sneaky computer tools will be needed to get the job done.

First, you'll need a keylogger. Keyloggers are one of the oldest computer spying programs around, and are widely used in some of the nastier computer viruses and spyware. Keyloggers record every keystroke typed on the keyboard, and record this information to a file, which can later be secretly retrieved for analysis. You'll also need a network analyzer and "packet sniffer," which can be useful for keeping track of e-mail, instant messaging and Web site activity. A program that captures and saves screenshots of what's being displayed on the monitor also is useful. Assembling a collection of the proper tools can be a hassle, but well worth the effort.

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